Inside the Class of '07: Brandon Collins

The 5th in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '07: defensive back Brandon Collins.

Brandon Collins
Defensive Back
Brenham HS
National Rank at CB: 35
Overall State Rank: 47
Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Brenham head coach Glenn West on Brandon Collins:

IT: What are Brandon’s strengths as a football player that made him such a desirable prospect for Texas?

West: Brandon's a very unique individual. He was brought up in a coaching family. His father is a basketball coach at Bush High School in Fort Bend and his father won a state championship as head basketball coach at Mexia and then he was at Texas City as a head basketball coach, and his mother is also a coach on our staff. I think just being brought up in sports, and basketball, is one of the things... He was not going to go football. All his life, his dream was to be a basketball player and those were his idols, and because of that, he was the point guard of the basketball team, and he sees the floor, he sees the football field... His vision was never a tunnel vision-type thing. He sees everything. I think that's one of his big assets. He is the most fierce competitor that I have ever coached in 23 years, without a doubt. He is No.1. He played in an all-state game in Florida this winter, and in that game, the coach that coached his team came back and saw me at the national (coaches) convention. He said, 'I've never seen anything like him. In the game, he took it over.' He said, 'He came to me on the sidelines, and said, 'Coach, they're playing like this, and I need to break my route off and do this. They're doing this here and I can get behind him,' and he said, 'This play will work, do this, do this',' and that's exactly the way he was with us this football season. He would come to me on the sidelines and say, 'Coach, they're playing us this way, I'm watching his eyes, I know I can do this.' Or on offense, 'Coach, I know when they're going to run the post, I know when they're going to break it off.' That's the kind of guy he's been forever.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Brandon?

West: The thing that caught Coach Giles' eye, Ahmard had committed, and (Giles) was coming in for his spring evaluations, and he and Coach Chambers were actually coming one day to see Ahmard and this one kid just kept sticking out. Coach Chambers said, 'Who is that?' And Oscar said, 'That's the one I've been telling you about. That's the Collins kid.' The comment made at that time was, 'We need to go back (to the other Texas coaches) and get up on a table and tell 'em about this kid.' So after that, Coach Giles came one more time for his second evaluation time and after that, he said, 'I really, really like this kid' -- he'd been offered by Miami -- 'he's one we really, really need to come into our camp, and if he can do at our camp what he's doing out there with your kids, I'm pretty sure we'll offer him.' He went to camp and he went there when all their big D-I commits came in and I was told he had one of the best days there and it was an instant offer at that point.

IT: He participated in UT's camp as a defensive back...

West: Yeah, and that's another great thing about him. Texas really likes the fact that he's very, very fast, he's very athletic and, because of his basketball ability, it's natural for him to cover. He's so good at switching off, and moving his feet, and shuffling, doing the things you have to do as a defensive back, with unbelievable ball skills, and that's one of the things, when the ball goes in the air when he plays defense for Texas, when the ball is in the air he becomes a receiver and he's one of the best around. I think one of the things Texas doesn't like about him offensively is the fact that he's 6-foot and wiry as far as a true wide receiver, but he will grow and he will be a tremendous player. I think that's why you've seen him as being recruited as an athlete because he can do so many things. He's also an excellent kick returner, he's fearless, he loves to catch punts, and he's deceivingly fast. He has a long stride, so he does not look fast, but I had a coach in our district at the district meeting said, 'Coach, if you would have put him up for center, I would have voted for him.' He said, 'He is the best player by far in our district.'

IT: So he's a guy that, at the next level, you could see play at multiple positions?

West: Multiple positions. And he's a team player so whatever coach Brown and his staff need him to do, he'll do it. And he can do everything. He's just a tremendous athlete. He's 6-foot tall but look at the length of his arms. He's got long, long arms and huge hands. He's built to mess with the ball in one way or another, to be involved in the ball. And another thing about him, he's a fierce hitter. He will unload on you. He injured his shoulder in the eighth game of the season, had a slight separation, and it happened in the first half on the first series; he missed three plays. We padded it up. We could not keep him out of the lineup. We couldn't keep him out of the lineup. There's no way. He is that fierce a competitor.

IT: He's 6-foot right now, 170?

West: Yes.

IT: Based on what you know of him and his family, is he a guy...

West: Based on what I think, he'll weight 190, 185. He's got the muscle structure to be big. He's never lifted a weight in his life other than with us in football. He's never gone through an off-season because he was a great basketball player. The day football ended he's in the gym playing point guard. The day basketball ends he's on the track running the hurdles, so he's just a multi-sport kid. I'm here to say if he played baseball, he would have been a great shortstop. He almost was our quarterback before Jarrett Lee moved to town. He would have been. He's got a great arm. He's just one of those kind of kids.

IT: Was Brandon a leader for you guys, and if so, how did he lead?

West: I had several coaches on my staff tell me, we would leave a ballgame, we'd have an after game function after the game and they would come up to me afterwards and say, 'God, what he said tonight at halftime was so powerful' and it just came natural. And it wasn't about him, it was about 'us' and 'we' and 'strength' and 'we've got to do this' and 'we're going to do this' and 'let's get together'. I'll never forget, as a junior -- and this is odd for a junior to do this -- we're playing Hallsville in a bi-district game in Waco, and our leader of the team, our leading rusher, was playing cornerback, he was playing both ways and he had a hundred-something yards rushing in the first half. The bad thing about that is he's tired by halftime, and they started running fade routes on him and he was manned up, and he was gassed. Brandon, in front of him after we got through the series, came running over to me in front of this kid, said to me, 'Coach, get him out of the game. He's going to kill us. He's tired. You've got to get him out of the game.' This is a junior talking about a captain of the team. 'Get the captain out!' And you know what, the kid didn't argue with him, he just kind of looked at him. Brandon wasn't afraid to do that. He will throw his body... he's a foxhole kid. If I'm in a foxhole, I want that kid with me. He will give you everything he can. And that's what sold the University of Texas on him. He is a true warrior.

IT: What did Brandon mean to your football program?

West: I've already talked about his competitiveness, I've already talked about the fact that he can take over a ballgame. I would say his biggest asset is he brought a confidence to this team that nobody's gonna beat us. I hear the University of Texas talk about swagger. This kid has a lot of swagger. The bigger the competition, he's ready to go. That's what he wants, and he bleeds that over into your team. Ya know, we're going to have a very good football team next year, but the one thing at Brenham that we're going to have to find, and I'm not sure that we can, is the Collins factor. Who is going to take over the Collins Factor. I don't Vince Young; I personally don't know anything about him, but what I hear people say and what I know of Brandon Collins, they have some of the same charisma as far as how they can make people around them rise to their best. That's his biggest asset.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Brandon's ability as a football player?

West: I have a hard time with just one. I can think of three times where we were in overtime: the night he hurt his shoulder (against Livingston) and he missed three plays, and the trainer was like, 'I don't know, Coach' and Brandon was telling me as the trainer was saying that, 'Coach, I'm going in. You can not keep me out of this ballgame. I'm going in. And I'm fine.' And the trainer finally said, 'You have to raise your arm above your head or you can't go, and [West raises his arms above his head] 'I can go now coach' and that's the kind of kid he was. In that ballgame, he makes tackle after tackle with that shoulder. I don't know how he does it. Gets the guy down, and we go to overtime, and the first play, we throw a screen pass to him and he goes the distance. Turns around, makes three defensive plays back-to-back-to-back to keep them out of the end zone. That's a pretty big defining moment. So we win in overtime 24-21. For the district championship we're playing Caney Creek which we win 21-7, the score is 7-7 in the fourth quarter, we throw two passes to him and we win 21-7. He just takes over the field. Those are two defining moments. With a kid like Brandon, there are several, but I think a lot of things you learn about kids are when they have adverse situations. When an injury happens to a kid, he's got the University of Texas in front of him, he's got a partially separated shoulder, he probably needs to sit, but when the kid at that point... there are several kids that I know that are great football players that at that point, say 'Coach, I can't.' And I understand. This kid not only was saying 'I think I can go' he was telling me 'You've got to put me back into the game'. That's probably as defining a moment as there is. Like I said earlier, he is the most fierce competitor I have ever coached and I told coach Brown that the other day. In my 23 years of coaching, being in state championships, playing on state championships, having kids right now in the NFL, coaching Limas Sweed, no doubt this kid is the most fierce competitor I have ever coached.

IT: How does that competitiveness translate into the other things he does off the football field?

West: It can sometimes get him in trouble because he's not afraid of anything. He will take on any challenge, anywhere, anytime. He will be very successful. Classroom-wise, freshman and sophomore year, he didn't do as well in school, and he could have because he's very smart. When he realized where his opportunities were coming and what he had to do, his GPA went through the roof. He started making straight As, and when it came time to take his SAT test or ACT, "This is what I've gotta make, that's what I'll make.' That's what kind of kid he is. Never thinks he's out of it. I think sometimes that can get you in trouble because he gets motivated, and once he's motivated, he's unbelievable. He's not a kid that would start off in the beginning and draw everything up, 'OK, I do this to do this to do this', he's the kind of kid that walks in and says, 'Game on. Let's go.' Great kid. Also, though, does a good job. He's a smart kid. Stays away from all the temptations that our young people go through these days. You're not going to have to worry about Brandon Collins in that situation. He's too smart for it, he doesn't want to do that. He was raised in a coaching family so he will stand out on his own. He will definitely stand out on his own.

IT: What are the areas of Brandon’s game that he needs to improve upon to be successful in college?

West: His strength. He needs to get a lot stronger, that's the No. 1 thing. Ball skills and athletically -- and I'm not saying this disrespectfully because I don't know the players that Texas has -- it would be hard for me to think that he's not as athletic as anybody that is there. May not be the case, but the one area that they are going to be way ahead of him on is their physical strength and that's the area that he has to get involved in, has to get in the weight room and get serious with that. Texas has a history of making that happen, and he's got to do that. That's his No. 1 thing. No. 2, I really hope for him and all our kids, that he takes care of his business in the classroom. We want to see a kid come back to Brenham one day with a college degree. That helps us, that helps us with our young people. He and I are going to go to the junior highs together and the elementary together to talk to them about their futures and what they need to do. I need him, and we need him as a community, to come back and have a positive experience in college.

IT: Do you see more upside at a particular position more than another?

West: He has tremendous ball skills. He understands how to run routes, unbelievably. At the same time, he can cover anybody...

IT: And a lot of that comes from his basketball upbringing?

West: That's right. I really think he will get a lot bigger and then hopefully Texas will look at him and say, 'We need him here. We need him there.' I think that's why it's a no-brainer to take a kid like him because he fits both ways. It's really what you need him as. I think he's the best receiver that I've ever coached. He is the best defensive player I've ever coached, too, though. He is a complete receiver as well as a complete defensive player. The only area that Brandon Collins falls short in is strength. That's the only area.

IT: Did he play corner or safety or both for you guys?

West: Both. Against Montgomery, they had one of the leading receivers in the district -- would have been the leading receiver but Brandon was the leading receiver; Brandon caught over 1,000 yards receiving this year -- but in that ballgame we had a kid trying to cover a tall receiver that was very gifted and after about the second quarter, Brandon came to sidelines and said, 'Let me have him all over the field.' Our secondary coach made adjustments, we put Brandon on him, the kid didn't catch another pass. That was at a cornerback position. He was an all-district cornerback as a sophomore. If they had a great receiver and we wanted to go zero coverage, we knew we could put Brandon on him, and he would never catch a pass.

IT: Is Brandon best suited for a particular wide receiver spot?

West: He was so good, we wanted to keep him from being double-covered. We had another great receiver that had a high ankle sprain at a really crucial time of the year, so what it did, it allowed people to double-cover Brandon, so we would move him from the slot to a wideout to motion. We became very creative with Brandon so you couldn't double-cover him. He can do either one of them. He catches the bubbles really well as a slot receiver, he makes people miss. At the same time, he can flat-out out-run you and catches the fade well. Oh, and his vertical is unbelievable. He's the kind of kid that can hit his head on the rim. He's got an unbelievable vertical.

IT: He returned kicks?

West: Punts and kickoffs.

IT: You mentioned earlier that he was fearless...

West: Fearless. The only thing he wouldn't do early is fair catch. Finally, we had to get him to do that a couple of times. Basically, he was real smart about that, too.

IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Brandon that we didn't already cover?

West: I am positive that he will be successful at the next level.

Also see: Brandon Collins Dominates at East-West Game

UT Signing Day Bio: An all-state selection who played at both wide receiver and safety … versatile three-sport letterman who was named second-team 4A all-state by the Texas Sports Writers Association at wide receiver as a senior … an honorable mention 4A all-state selection by The Associated Press … a three-year letterman who finished his career with 99 receptions for 1,893 yards and 29 TDs … averaged 19.1 yards per reception and a TD every 3.4 catches for his career … also posted 14 interceptions (four returned for TDs) on defense during his career … earned first-team all-district 18-4A on offense, defense and special teams … also earned first-team All-Greater Houston on offense and defense … made 60 receptions for 1,073 yards and 15 TDs on offense as a senior … averaged 17.9 yards per reception … was the first receiver in school history to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season … recorded 43 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), six pass break ups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on defense … led Brenham to a 11-2 finish and a No. 17 ranking in Texas Football's Top 25 … helped lead team to an area championship in the 4A playoffs … earned all-district honors 18-4A at wide receiver and defensive back as a junior … also tabbed second-team All-Greater Houston … had 39 receptions for 820 yards and 12 TDs on offense … also posted five INTs including three returned for TDs … returned two punts for TDs … earned all-district honors at cornerback as a sophomore … posted 50 tackles, 20 PBU and five INTs … tabbed all-district as a point guard in basketball … was a regional qualifier in the 110 hurdles, the 300 hurdles and the long jump … has been named to the honor roll since his sophomore year … involved with Future Cubs, mentoring to elementary children … has been a speaker at local junior high and elementary schools … mother, Kim, is an assistant coach with the girl's basketball and track and field teams at Brenham H.S. … father, Darrell, his the head boy's basketball coach at Fort Bend George Bush H.S. … cousin, Shaud Williams, played running back at Texas Tech (1999-2000) and Alabama (2002-03) and is currently playing for the Buffalo Bills … enjoys riding horses, hunting and fishing … full name is Brandon Jerard Collins … born 4/21/89 in Austin, Texas … moved immediately to San Angelo … moved to Bryan when he was eight and then moved to Brenham in the fifth grade.



All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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